Laura Foster is an architectural historian specializing in the early modern and modern periods. Her research concerns the intersection of architecture and disciplinary institutions, drawing upon a dissertation that treated the design and influence of the House of Correction for Boys in Trastevere (architect Carlo Fontana, 1701-04), the first institution of its type to use cell blocks in imprisonment. Research for the dissertation was supported by the Lemmermann Foundation (1997); a William J. Fulbright Fellowship (1997-98); a Samuel H. Kress Travel Fellowship and Foreign Language Area Scholarship (1998-1999).
Both her research and courses focus upon the relationship of power structures to the uses of built form and urban space. Beyond the relationship of patrons and architects, her courses explore the political and social effects of specific works. The formal language of architecture, whether in the symbol-laden church façades of Francesco Borromini or in the simple Rationalist geometries of the Fascist era, is always considered in its local contexts, from the perspective of those who commissioned the buildings and those who used them.
Courses Taught: Power and Politics in Roman Architecture, from Augustus to Mussolini (AH181); Modern Rome and Its Monuments (AH293); Baroque Rome and Its Monuments (AH298); Selected Topics in Modern Art: Modern Architecture, 20th-21st Centuries (AH283).
Selected Conference Participation
“The Carceri Nuove on via Giulia (1652-55): Architecture and the Display of Social Discipline,” Early Modern Rome 3 Conference, University of California, Rome Campus (upcoming 5-7 October 2017).
“Carlo Fontana and the Function of the Public in Late Baroque Roman Architecture.” Panel: “Public Opinion on Architecture Before 1750: Definitions and Examples,” Society of Architectural Historians Meeting, Vancouver (April 2005)
“Architecture and Experiments in Punishment in the House of Correction for Boys in Rome, 1704-1730.” Panel: “New Research in the Social History of Baroque Architecture, 1550-1750,” Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Toronto (April 2001)
“Papal Charity and Enlightenment Ideals: Art Instruction for Orphan Boys in Rome, 1752-1796.” Panel: “Rome in the 18th Century: Continuity and Innovation,” College Art Association Annual Conference, New York City (February 2000)